Date sent: 9 February 2018, 12:19

From: Claus Leitherer - IAU Division J President (

Subject: IAU Division J Steering Committee Election Information

Dear Members of IAU Division J (Galaxies and Cosmology):

Every three years each IAU division holds elections to name new officers.  The election itself will be held by the IAU in April and the closure of candidate applications for division elections will be on March 15th (

This e-mail is to ask Division J members to nominate yourselves or others to fill the vacant positions.  The following information is to help you understand better what the division officers do.

What officers does the division have?

Each IAU division has a President, a Vice-President, who are members of the Steering Committee.  There is also a position of Secretary chosen from the Steering Committee. The Vice-President assists the President in organizing the tasks the division is asked to do.

The President is ordinarily not elected directly; instead the current Vice-President moves up to be President at the next General Assembly (at Vienna in August).  However, the present Vice-President (Matt Malkan) will not be available, and therefore applications for both the President and the Vice-President office are welcome. The current President is Claus Leitherer (Space Telescope Science Institute).  He was preceded in that office by Francoise Combes (Paris Observatory). Claus Leitherer will become Advisor on the next Steering Committee.

There are currently twelve members on the Steering Committee.  They serve a maximum of six-year terms.  The current members ( are:

  • Claus Leitherer (President)
  • Matthew Arnold Malkan (Vice-President)
  • Jeremy R. Mould (Secretary)
  • Denis Burgarella (Commission J1 President)
  • Francoise Combes (Advisor - Past President)
  • Avery A. Meiksin (Commission J2 President)
  • Thaisa Storchi-Bergmann (Representative from Commission X1)
  • Andrew J. Bunker
  • Marcella Carollo
  • Stephane J. Courteau
  • Leslie Hunt
  • Monica Rubio

Six Steering Committee positions are open to be filled in April: The President, Vice-President and four At-Large Members. In addition, each commission will replace its officers; that is being done separately.

What do the division officers do?

There are several specific tasks that the divisions participate in.  These are not constant throughout the year; instead they occur seasonally, mostly at the beginning of the year.

The most significant task is the evaluation of the IAU symposia.  Each fall IAU members are invited to submit letters of intent to organize an IAU symposium on a topical subject of interest to them.  During October and November each year the division receives requests for endorsements from proposers.  The division officers comment on the proposals with the goal of improving them.  The division President organizes this and provides comments back to proposers.  In the following January the divisions are sent the proposals for symposia that were received, to be graded and commented upon.  The IAU Executive Committee uses those grades in making a final selection.  The number of symposium proposals received varies, being higher for sessions held as part of the General Assembly.  (For the 2018 General Assembly there were 80+ proposals for symposia and focus meetings.  For 2019 there are 30 symposium proposals.)  If Division J is the sponsoring division for a selected symposium, then someone from the Steering Committee is chosen to act as liaison to that symposium’s Scientific Organizing Committee.  That is done to help ensure that the program of the symposium meets the IAU diversity goals.

Each IAU division also selects the winners of the IAU Ph.D. prize.  The selection is occurring in January and happens every year.

Each IAU division organizes the program for the division days at each General Assembly.  There are two such days, the Friday and Monday in the middle of the two weeks.  The content of that program is up to the divisions.

Divisions are also asked from time to time to submit reports on advances in the area covered by their division and the like, typically once per year. For example, Division J provided input to the IAU Strategic Plan 2020 – 2030 in the past year.

Once a year, the Division President participates in a multi-day meeting of the IAU Executive Committee to discuss future plans and strategies of the IAU. Participation can be in person or remotely.

With 3000+ members, Division J is one of the largest in the IAU, and so these tasks are significant.  Division officers are expected to respond to these needs fairly quickly (usually within about 2 weeks).

The Division President and Vice President organize this work, and the Secretary is responsible for communicating as needed to division members.


What skills or experience should candidates have?

Any member of Division J is eligible to be an officer and nominations are welcome from anyone.  Because of the tasks the division undertakes, we need officers who can help represent the worldwide nature of our science.  We also need officers with many different scientific interests so that we can comment intelligently on the proposals we receive that cover the very broad subject of extragalactic astronomy and cosmology.


What resources does the IAU provide to officers?

The IAU hosts web pages for its various units, including the divisions, commissions, and working groups.  The IAU also provides lists of e-mail addresses for the units to enable communication.

The IAU cannot provide large travel funds or other financial support.  Division Presidents ordinarily will travel to one meeting of the IAU Executive Committee each year, and that is done using a combination of IAU, personal or institutional resources.


How can I submit a nomination?

If you wish to be considered or wish to propose someone else, please contact me directly.  I will ask you for some basic information: how to contact the nominee; the specific scientific interests of the nominee; and a statement from the nominee indicating their willingness to serve and why they wish to. You will also need to submit your candidate application via the IAU web platform between February 15th and March 15th in order to be considered on the election slate. A mailing will be sent out from the IAU on February 15th with the link to submit your candidate application.

Please contact me no later than March 1, 2018 at You may also send me any questions you may have.

I wish to acknowledge Dave Soderblom (Vice-President, Division G) for preparing an earlier version of this document for Division G.

Claus Leitherer

(President, Division J)


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